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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT FS Prologue Para. 1/1 - FIRST PART OF THE SECOND PART (FS) (QQ[1]-114)
      • Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE COMPARISON OF ONE SIN WITH ANOTHER (TEN ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE COMPARISON OF ONE SIN WITH ANOTHER (TEN ARTICLES)

We must now consider the comparison of one sin with another: under which
head there are ten points of inquiry:

(1) Whether all sins and vices are connected with one another?

(2) Whether all are equal?

(3) Whether the gravity of sin depends on its object?

(4) Whether it depends on the excellence of the virtue to which it is
opposed?

(5) Whether carnal sins are more grievous than spiritual sins?

(6) Whether the gravity of sins depends on their causes?

(7) Whether it depends on their circumstances?

(8) Whether it depends on how much harm ensues?

(9) Whether on the position of the person sinned against?
(10) Whether sin is aggravated by reason of the excellence of the person
sinning?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether all sins are connected with one another?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that all sins are connected. For it is written
(James 2:10): "Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, but offend in one
point, is become guilty of all." Now to be guilty of transgressing all
the precepts of Law, is the same as to commit all sins, because, as
Ambrose says (De Parad. viii), "sin is a transgression of the Divine law,
and disobedience of the heavenly commandments." Therefore whoever commits
one sin is guilty of all.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, each sin banishes its opposite virtue. Now whoever lacks
one virtue lacks them all, as was shown above (Q[65], A[1]). Therefore
whoever commits one sin, is deprived of all the virtues. Therefore
whoever commits one sin, is guilty of all sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, all virtues are connected, because they have a principle
in common, as stated above (Q[65], AA[1],2). Now as the virtues have a
common principle, so have sins, because, as the love of God, which builds
the city of God, is the beginning and root of all the virtues, so
self-love, which builds the city of Babylon, is the root of all sins, as
Augustine declares (De Civ. Dei xiv, 28). Therefore all vices and sins
are also connected so that whoever has one, has them all.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Some vices are contrary to one another, as the
Philosopher states (Ethic. ii, 8). But contraries cannot be together in
the same subject. Therefore it is impossible for all sins and vices to be
connected with one another.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The intention of the man who acts according to virtue in
pursuance of his reason, is different from the intention of the sinner in straying from the path of reason. For the intention of every man acting
according to virtue is to follow the rule of reason, wherefore the
intention of all the virtues is directed to the same end, so that all the
virtues are connected together in the right reason of things to be done,
viz. prudence, as stated above (Q[65], A[1]). But the intention of the
sinner is not directed to the point of straying from the path of reason;
rather is it directed to tend to some appetible good whence it derives
its species. Now these goods, to which the sinner's intention is directed
when departing from reason, are of various kinds, having no mutual
connection; in fact they are sometimes contrary to one another. Since,
therefore, vices and sins take their species from that to which they
turn, it is evident that, in respect of that which completes a sin's
species, sins are not connected with one another. For sin does not
consist in passing from the many to the one, as is the case with virtues,
which are connected, but rather in forsaking the one for the many.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: James is speaking of sin, not as regards the thing to which
it turns and which causes the distinction of sins, as stated above (Q[72]
, A[1]), but as regards that from which sin turns away, in as much as
man, by sinning, departs from a commandment of the law. Now all the
commandments of the law are from one and the same, as he also says in the
same passage, so that the same God is despised in every sin; and in this
sense he says that whoever "offends in one point, is become guilty of
all," for as much as, by committing one sin, he incurs the debt of
punishment through his contempt of God, which is the origin of all sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As stated above (Q[71], A[4]), the opposite virtue is not
banished by every act of sin; because venial sin does not destroy virtue;
while mortal sin destroys infused virtue, by turning man away from God.
Yet one act, even of mortal sin, does not destroy the habit of acquired
virtue; though if such acts be repeated so as to engender a contrary
habit, the habit of acquired virtue is destroyed, the destruction of
which entails the loss of prudence, since when man acts against any
virtue whatever, he acts against prudence, without which no moral virtue
is possible, as stated above (Q[58], A[4]; Q[65], A[1]). Consequently all
the moral virtues are destroyed as to the perfect and formal being of
virtue, which they have in so far as they partake of prudence, yet there
remain the inclinations to virtuous acts, which inclinations, however,
are not virtues. Nevertheless it does not follow that for this reason man
contracts all vices of sins - first, because several vices are opposed to
one virtue, so that a virtue can be destroyed by one of them, without the
others being present; secondly, because sin is directly opposed to
virtue, as regards the virtue's inclination to act, as stated above
(Q[71], A[1]). Wherefore, as long as any virtuous inclinations remain, it
cannot be said that man has the opposite vices or sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The love of God is unitive, in as much as it draws man's
affections from the many to the one; so that the virtues, which flow from
the love of God, are connected together. But self-love disunites man's
affections among different things, in so far as man loves himself, by
desiring for himself temporal goods, which are various and of many kinds:
hence vices and sins, which arise from self-love, are not connected
together.

(tm)Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether all sins are equal?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that all sins are equal. Because sin is to do what
is unlawful. Now to do what is unlawful is reproved in one and the same
way in all things. Therefore sin is reproved in one and the same way.
Therefore one sin is not graver than another.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, every sin is a transgression of the rule of reason,
which is to human acts what a linear rule is in corporeal things.
Therefore to sin is the same as to pass over a line. But passing over a
line occurs equally and in the same way, even if one go a long way from
it or stay near it, since privations do not admit of more or less.
Therefore all sins are equal.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, sins are opposed to virtues. But all virtues are equal,
as Cicero states (Paradox. iii). Therefore all sins are equal.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Our Lord said to Pilate (Jn. 19:11): "He that hath
delivered me to thee, hath the greater sin," and yet it is evident that
Pilate was guilty of some sin. Therefore one sin is greater than another.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The opinion of the Stoics, which Cicero adopts in the
book on Paradoxes (Paradox. iii), was that all sins are equal: from which
opinion arose the error of certain heretics, who not only hold all sins
to be equal, but also maintain that all the pains of hell are equal. So
far as can be gathered from the words of Cicero the Stoics arrived at
their conclusion through looking at sin on the side of the privation
only, in so far, to wit, as it is a departure from reason; wherefore
considering simply that no privation admits of more or less, they held
that all sins are equal. Yet, if we consider the matter carefully, we
shall see that there are two kinds of privation. For there is a simple
and pure privation, which consists, so to speak, in "being" corrupted;
thus death is privation of life, and darkness is privation of light. Such
like privations do not admit of more or less, because nothing remains of
the opposite habit; hence a man is not less dead on the first day after
his death, or on the third or fourth days, than after a year, when his
corpse is already dissolved; and, in like manner, a house is no darker if
the light be covered with several shades, than if it were covered by a
single shade shutting out all the light. There is, however, another
privation which is not simple, but retains something of the opposite
habit; it consists in "becoming" corrupted rather than in "being"
corrupted, like sickness which is a privation of the due commensuration
of the humors, yet so that something remains of that commensuration, else
the animal would cease to live: and the same applies to deformity and the
like. Such privations admit of more or less on the part of what remains
or the contrary habit. For it matters much in sickness or deformity,
whether one departs more or less from the due commensuration of humors or
members. The same applies to vices and sins: because in them the
privation of the due commensuration of reason is such as not to destroy
the order of reason altogether; else evil, if total, destroys itself, as
stated in Ethic. iv, 5. For the substance of the act, or the affection of
the agent could not remain, unless something remained of the order of
reason. Therefore it matters much to the gravity of a sin whether one
departs more or less from the rectitude of reason: and accordingly we
must say that sins are not all equal.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: To commit sin is lawful on account of some inordinateness
therein: wherefore those which contain a greater inordinateness are more
unlawful, and consequently graver sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This argument looks upon sin as though it were a pure
privation.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Virtues are proportionately equal in one and the same
subject: yet one virtue surpasses another in excellence according to its
species; and again, one man is more virtuous than another, in the same
species of virtue, as stated above (Q[66], AA[1],2). Moreover, even if
virtues were equal, it would not follow that vices are equal, since
virtues are connected, and vices or sins are not.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the gravity of sins varies according to their objects?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the gravity of sins does not vary according to
their objects. Because the gravity of a sin pertains to its mode or
quality: whereas the object is the matter of the sin. Therefore the
gravity of sins does not vary according to their various objects.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the gravity of a sin is the intensity of its malice. Now
sin does not derive its malice from its proper object to which it turns,
and which is some appetible good, but rather from that which it turns
away from. Therefore the gravity of sins does not vary according to their
various objects.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, sins that have different objects are of different kinds.
But things of different kinds cannot be compared with one another, as is
proved in Phys. vii, text. 30, seqq. Therefore one sin is not graver than
another by reason of the difference of objects.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Sins take their species from their objects, as was
shown above (Q[72], A[1]). But some sins are graver than others in
respect of their species, as murder is graver than theft. Therefore the
gravity of sins varies according to their objects.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As is clear from what has been said (Q[71], A[5]), the
gravity of sins varies in the same way as one sickness is graver than
another: for just as the good of health consists in a certain
commensuration of the humors, in keeping with an animal's nature, so the
good of virtue consists in a certain commensuration of the human act in
accord with the rule of reason. Now it is evident that the higher the
principle the disorder of which causes the disorder in the humors, the
graver is the sickness: thus a sickness which comes on the human body
from the heart, which is the principle of life, or from some neighboring
part, is more dangerous. Wherefore a sin must needs be so much the
graver, as the disorder occurs in a principle which is higher in the
order of reason. Now in matters of action the reason directs all things
in view of the end: wherefore the higher the end which attaches to sins
in human acts, the graver the sin. Now the object of an act is its end,
as stated above (Q[72], A[3], ad 2); and consequently the difference of
gravity in sins depends on their objects. Thus it is clear that external
things are directed to man as their end, while man is further directed to
God as his end. Wherefore a sin which is about the very substance of man,
e.g. murder, is graver than a sin which is about external things, e.g.
theft; and graver still is a sin committed directly against God, e.g.
unbelief, blasphemy, and the like: and in each of these grades of sin,
one sin will be graver than another according as it is about a higher or
lower principle. And forasmuch as sins take their species from their
objects, the difference of gravity which is derived from the objects is
first and foremost, as resulting from the species.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Although the object is the matter about which an act is
concerned, yet it has the character of an end, in so far as the intention
of the agent is fixed on it, as stated above (Q[72], A[3], ad 2). Now the
form of a moral act depends on the end, as was shown above (Q[72], A[6];
Q[18], A[6]).

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: From the very fact that man turns unduly to some mutable
good, it follows that he turns away from the immutable Good, which
aversion completes the nature of evil. Hence the various degrees of
malice in sins must needs follow the diversity of those things to which
man turns.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: All the objects of human acts are related to one another,
wherefore all human acts are somewhat of one kind, in so far as they are
directed to the last end. Therefore nothing prevents all sins from being
compared with one another.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the gravity of sins depends on the excellence of the virtues to
which they are opposed?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the gravity of sins does not vary according to
the excellence of the virtues to which they are opposed, so that, to wit,
the graver the sin is opposed to the greater virtue. For, according to
Prov. 15:5, "In abundant justice there is the greatest strength." Now, as
Our Lord says (Mt. 5:20, seqq.) abundant justice restrains anger, which
is a less grievous sin than murder, which less abundant justice
restrains. Therefore the least grievous sin is opposed to the greatest
virtue.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, it is stated in Ethic. ii, 3 that "virtue is about the
difficult and the good": whence it seems to follow that the greater
virtue is about what is more difficult. But it is a less grievous sin to
fail in what is more difficult, than in what is less difficult. Therefore
the less grievous sin is opposed to the greater virtue.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, charity is a greater virtue than faith or hope (1 Cor.
13:13). Now hatred which is opposed to charity is a less grievous sin
than unbelief or despair which are opposed to faith and hope. Therefore
the less grievous sin is opposed to the greater virtue.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. 8:10) that the "worst is
opposed to the best." Now in morals the best is the greatest virtue; and
the worst is the most grievous sin. Therefore the most grievous sin is
opposed to the greatest virtue.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A sin is opposed to a virtue in two ways: first,
principally and directly; that sin, to with, which is about the same
object: because contraries are about the same thing. In this way, the
more grievous sin must needs be opposed to the greater virtue: because,
just as the degrees of gravity in a sin depend on the object, so also
does the greatness of a virtue, since both sin and virtue take their
species from the object, as shown above (Q[60], A[5]; Q[72], A[1]).
Wherefore the greatest sin must needs be directly opposed to the greatest
virtue, as being furthest removed from it in the same genus. Secondly,
the opposition of virtue to sin may be considered in respect of a certain
extension of the virtue in checking sin. For the greater a virtue is, the
further it removes man from the contrary sin, so that it withdraws man
not only from that sin, but also from whatever leads to it. And thus it
is evident that the greater a virtue is, the more it withdraws man also
from less grievous sins: even as the more perfect health is, the more
does it ward off even minor ailments. And in this way the less grievous
sin is opposed to the greater virtue, on the part of the latter's effect.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This argument considers the opposition which consists in
restraining from sin; for thus abundant justice checks even minor sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The greater virtue that is about a more difficult good is
opposed directly to the sin which is about a more difficult evil. For in
each case there is a certain superiority, in that the will is shown to be
more intent on good or evil, through not being overcome by the difficulty.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Charity is not any kind of love, but the love of God: hence
not any kind of hatred is opposed to it directly, but the hatred of God,
which is the most grievous of all sins.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether carnal sins are of less guilt than spiritual sins?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that carnal sins are not of less guilt than
spiritual sins. Because adultery is a more grievous sin than theft: for
it is written (Prov. 6:30,32): "The fault is not so great when a man has
stolen . . . but he that is an adulterer, for the folly of his heart shall destroy his own soul." Now theft belongs to covetousness, which is
a spiritual sin; while adultery pertains to lust, which is a carnal sin.
Therefore carnal sins are of greater guilt than spiritual sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says in his commentary on Leviticus [*The
quotation is from De Civ. Dei ii, 4 and iv, 31.] that "the devil rejoices
chiefly in lust and idolatry." But he rejoices more in the greater sin.
Therefore, since lust is a carnal sin, it seems that the carnal sins are
of most guilt.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Philosopher proves (Ethic. vii, 6) that "it is more
shameful to be incontinent in lust than in anger." But anger is a
spiritual sin, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxi, 17); while lust
pertains to carnal sins. Therefore carnal sin is more grievous than
spiritual sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxxiii, 11) that carnal sins are
of less guilt, but of more shame than spiritual sins.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Spiritual sins are of greater guilt than carnal sins: yet
this does not mean that each spiritual sin is of greater guilt than each
carnal sin; but that, considering the sole difference between spiritual
and carnal, spiritual sins are more grievous than carnal sins, other
things being equal. Three reasons may be assigned for this. The first is
on the part of the subject: because spiritual sins belong to the spirit,
to which it is proper to turn to God, and to turn away from Him; whereas
carnal sins are consummated in the carnal pleasure of the appetite, to
which it chiefly belongs to turn to goods of the body; so that carnal
sin, as such, denotes more a "turning to" something, and for that reason,
implies a closer cleaving; whereas spiritual sin denotes more a "turning
from" something, whence the notion of guilt arises; and for this reason
it involves greater guilt. A second reason may be taken on the part of
the person against whom sin is committed: because carnal sin, as such, is
against the sinner's own body, which he ought to love less, in the order
of charity, than God and his neighbor, against whom he commits spiritual
sins, and consequently spiritual sins, as such, are of greater guilt. A
third reason may be taken from the motive, since the stronger the impulse
to sin, the less grievous the sin, as we shall state further on (A[6]).
Now carnal sins have a stronger impulse, viz. our innate concupiscence of
the flesh. Therefore spiritual sins, as such, are of greater guilt.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Adultery belongs not only to the sin of lust, but also to
the sin of injustice, and in this respect may be brought under the head
of covetousness, as a gloss observes on Eph. 5:5. "No fornicator, or
unclean, or covetous person," etc.; so that adultery is so much more
grievous than theft, as a man loves his wife more than his chattels.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The devil is said to rejoice chiefly in the sin of lust,
because it is of the greatest adhesion, and man can with difficulty be
withdrawn from it. "For the desire of pleasure is insatiable," as the
Philosopher states (Ethic. iii, 12).

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As the Philosopher himself says (Ethic. vii, 6), the reason
why it is more shameful to be incontinent in lust than in anger, is that
lust partakes less of reason; and in the same sense he says (Ethic. iii,
10) that "sins of intemperance are most worthy of reproach, because they
are about those pleasures which are common to us and irrational minds":
hence, by these sins man is, so to speak, brutalized; for which same
reason Gregory says (Moral. xxxi, 17) that they are more shameful.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the gravity of a sin depends on its cause?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the gravity of a sin does not depend on its
cause. Because the greater a sin's cause, the more forcibly it moves to
sin, and so the more difficult is it to resist. But sin is lessened by
the fact that it is difficult to resist; for it denotes weakness in the
sinner, if he cannot easily resist sin; and a sin that is due to weakness
is deemed less grievous. Therefore sin does not derive its gravity from
its cause.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, concupiscence is a general cause of sin; wherefore a
gloss on Rm. 7:7, "For I had not known concupiscence," says: "The law is
good, since by forbidding concupiscence, it forbids all evils." Now the
greater the concupiscence by which man is overcome, the less grievous his
sin. Therefore the gravity of a sin is diminished by the greatness of its
cause.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, as rectitude of the reason is the cause of a virtuous
act, so defect in the reason seems to be the cause of sin. Now the
greater the defect in the reason, the less grievous the sin: so much so
that he who lacks the use of reason, is altogether excused from sin, and
he who sins through ignorance, sins less grievously. Therefore the
gravity of a sin is not increased by the greatness of its cause.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, If the cause be increased, the effect is increased.
Therefore the greater the cause of sin, the more grievous the sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, In the genus of sin, as in every other genus, two causes
may be observed. The first is the direct and proper cause of sin, and is
the will to sin: for it is compared to the sinful act, as a tree to its
fruit, as a gloss observes on Mt. 7:18, "A good tree cannot bring forth
evil fruit": and the greater this cause is, the more grievous will the
sin be, since the greater the will to sin, the more grievously does man
sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] Body Para. 2/2

The other causes of sin are extrinsic and remote, as it were, being
those whereby the will is inclined to sin. Among these causes we must
make a distinction; for some of them induce the will to sin in accord
with the very nature of the will: such is the end, which is the proper
object of the will; and by a such like cause sin is made more grievous,
because a man sins more grievously if his will is induced to sin by the
intention of a more evil end. Other causes incline the will to sin,
against the nature and order of the will, whose natural inclination is to
be moved freely of itself in accord with the judgment of reason.
Wherefore those causes which weaken the judgment of reason (e.g.
ignorance), or which weaken the free movement of the will, (e.g.
weakness, violence, fear, or the like), diminish the gravity of sin, even
as they diminish its voluntariness; and so much so, that if the act be
altogether involuntary, it is no longer sinful.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This argument considers the extrinsic moving cause, which
diminishes voluntariness. The increase of such a cause diminishes the
sin, as stated.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: If concupiscence be understood to include the movement of
the will, then, where there is greater concupiscence, there is a greater
sin. But if by concupiscence we understand a passion, which is a movement
of the concupiscible power, then a greater concupiscence, forestalling
the judgment of reason and the movement of the will, diminishes the sin,
because the man who sins, being stimulated by a greater concupiscence,
falls through a more grievous temptation, wherefore he is less to be
blamed. On the other hand, if concupiscence be taken in this sense
follows the judgment of reason, and the movement of the will, then the
greater concupiscence, the graver the sin: because sometimes the movement
of concupiscence is redoubled by the will tending unrestrainedly to its
object.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: This argument considers the cause which renders the act
involuntary, and such a cause diminishes the gravity of sin, as stated.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a circumstance aggravates a sin?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a circumstance does not aggravate a sin.
Because sin takes its gravity from its species. Now a circumstance does
not specify a sin, for it is an accident thereof. Therefore the gravity
of a sin is not taken from a circumstance.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, a circumstance is either evil or not: if it is evil, it
causes, of itself, a species of evil; and if it is not evil, it cannot
make a thing worse. Therefore a circumstance nowise aggravates a sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the malice of a sin is derived from its turning away
(from God). But circumstances affect sin on the part of the object to
which it turns. Therefore they do not add to the sin's malice.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Ignorance of a circumstance diminishes sin: for he who
sins through ignorance of a circumstance, deserves to be forgiven (Ethic.
iii, 1). Now this would not be the case unless a circumstance aggravated
a sin. Therefore a circumstance makes a sin more grievous.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As the Philosopher says in speaking of habits of virtue
(Ethic. ii, 1,2), "it is natural for a thing to be increased by that
which causes it." Now it is evident that a sin is caused by a defect in
some circumstance: because the fact that a man departs from the order of
reason is due to his not observing the due circumstances in his action.
Wherefore it is evident that it is natural for a sin to be aggravated by
reason of its circumstances. This happens in three ways. First, in so far
as a circumstance draws a sin from one kind to another: thus fornication
is the intercourse of a man with one who is not his wife: but if to this
be added the circumstance that the latter is the wife of another, the sin
is drawn to another kind of sin, viz. injustice, in so far as he usurps
another's property; and in this respect adultery is a more grievous sin
than fornication. Secondly, a circumstance aggravates a sin, not by
drawing it into another genus, but only by multiplying the ratio of sin:
thus if a wasteful man gives both when he ought not, and to whom he ought
not to give, he commits the same kind of sin in more ways than if he were
to merely to give to whom he ought not, and for that very reason his sin
is more grievous; even as that sickness is the graver which affects more
parts of the body. Hence Cicero says (Paradox. iii) that "in taking his
father's life a man commits many sins; for he outrages one who begot him,
who fed him, who educated him, to whom he owes his lands, his house, his
position in the republic." Thirdly, a circumstance aggravates a sin by
adding to the deformity which the sin derives from another circumstance:
thus, taking another's property constitutes the sin of theft; but if to
this be added the circumstance that much is taken of another's property,
the sin will be more grievous; although in itself, to take more or less
has not the character of a good or of an evil act.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Some circumstances do specify a moral act, as stated above
(Q[18], A[10]). Nevertheless a circumstance which does not give the
species, may aggravate a sin; because, even as the goodness of a thing is
weighed, not only in reference to its species, but also in reference to
an accident, so the malice of an act is measured, not only according to
the species of that act, but also according to a circumstance.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A circumstance may aggravate a sin either way. For if it is
evil, it does not follow that it constitutes the sin's species; because
it may multiply the ratio of evil within the same species, as stated
above. And if it be not evil, it may aggravate a sin in relation to the
malice of another circumstance.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Reason should direct the action not only as regards the
object, but also as regards every circumstance. Therefore one may turn
aside from the rule of reason through corruption of any single
circumstance; for instance, by doing something when one ought not or
where one ought not; and to depart thus from the rule of reason suffices
to make the act evil. This turning aside from the rule of reason results
from man's turning away from God, to Whom man ought to be united by right
reason.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether sin is aggravated by reason of its causing more harm?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a sin is not aggravated by reason of its
causing more harm. Because the harm done is an issue consequent to the
sinful act. But the issue of an act does not add to its goodness or
malice, as stated above (Q[20], A[5]). Therefore a sin is not aggravated
on account of its causing more harm.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, harm is inflicted by sins against our neighbor. Because
no one wishes to harm himself: and no one can harm God, according to Job
35:6,8: "If thy iniquities be multiplied, what shalt thou do against Him?
. . . Thy wickedness may hurt a man that is like thee." If, therefore,
sins were aggravated through causing more harm, it would follow that sins
against our neighbor are more grievous than sins against God or oneself.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, greater harm is inflicted on a man by depriving him of
the life of grace, than by taking away his natural life; because the life
of grace is better than the life of nature, so far that man ought to
despise his natural life lest he lose the life of grace. Now, speaking
absolutely, a man who leads a woman to commit fornication deprives her of
the life of grace by leading her into mortal sin. If therefore a sin were
more grievous on account of its causing a greater harm, it would follow
that fornication, absolutely speaking, is a more grievous sin than
murder, which is evidently untrue. Therefore a sin is not more grievous
on account of its causing a greater harm.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 14): "Since vice is
contrary to nature, a vice is the more grievous according as it
diminishes the integrity of nature." Now the diminution of the integrity
of nature is a harm. Therefore a sin is graver according as it does more
harm.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Harm may bear a threefold relation to sin. Because
sometimes the harm resulting from a sin is foreseen and intended, as when
a man does something with a mind to harm another, e.g. a murderer or a
thief. In this case the quantity of harm aggravates the sin directly,
because then the harm is the direct object of the sin. Sometimes the harm
is foreseen, but not intended; for instance, when a man takes a short cut
through a field, the result being that he knowingly injures the growing
crops, although his intention is not to do this harm, but to commit
fornication. In this case again the quantity of the harm done aggravates
the sin; indirectly, however, in so far, to wit, as it is owing to his
will being strongly inclined to sin, that a man does not forbear from
doing, to himself or to another, a harm which he would not wish simply.
Sometimes, however, the harm is neither foreseen nor intended: and then
if this harm is connected with the sin accidentally, it does not
aggravate the sin directly; but, on account of his neglecting to consider
the harm that might ensue, a man is deemed punishable for the evil
results of his action if it be unlawful. If, on the other hand, the harm
follow directly from the sinful act, although it be neither foreseen nor
intended, it aggravates the sin directly, because whatever is directly
consequent to a sin, belongs, in a manner, to the very species of that
sin: for instance, if a man is a notorious fornicator, the result is that
many are scandalized; and although such was not his intention, nor was it
perhaps foreseen by him, yet it aggravates his sin directly.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] Body Para. 2/2

But this does not seem to apply to penal harm, which the sinner himself
incurs. Such like harm, if accidentally connected with the sinful act,
and if neither foreseen nor intended, does not aggravate a sin, nor does
it correspond with the gravity of the sin: for instance, if a man in
running to slay, slips and hurts his foot. If, on the other hand, this
harm is directly consequent to the sinful act, although perhaps it be
neither foreseen nor intended, then greater harm does not make greater
sin, but, on the contrary, a graver sin calls for the infliction of a
greater harm. Thus, an unbeliever who has heard nothing about the pains
of hell, would suffer greater pain in hell for a sin of murder than for a
sin of theft: but his sin is not aggravated on account of his neither
intending nor foreseeing this, as it would be in the case of a believer,
who, seemingly, sins more grievously in the very fact that he despises a
greater punishment, that he may satisfy his desire to sin; but the
gravity of this harm is caused by the sole gravity of sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As we have already stated (Q[20], A[5]), in treating of the
goodness and malice of external actions, the result of an action if
foreseen and intended adds to the goodness and malice of an act.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although the harm done aggravates a sin, it does not follow
that this alone renders a sin more grievous: in fact, it is
inordinateness which of itself aggravates a sin. Wherefore the harm
itself that ensues aggravates a sin, in so far only as it renders the act
more inordinate. Hence it does not follow, supposing harm to be inflicted
chiefly by sins against our neighbor, that such sins are the most
grievous, since a much greater inordinateness is to be found against
which man commits against God, and in some which he commits against
himself. Moreover we might say that although no man can do God any harm
in His substance, yet he can endeavor to do so in things concerning Him,
e.g. by destroying faith, by outraging holy things, which are most
grievous sins. Again, a man sometimes knowingly and freely inflicts harm
on himself, as in the case of suicide, though this be referred finally
to some apparent good, for example, delivery from some anxiety.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: This argument does not prove, for two reasons: first,
because the murderer intends directly to do harm to his neighbors;
whereas the fornicator who solicits the woman intends not to harm but
pleasure; secondly, because murder is the direct and sufficient cause of
bodily death; whereas no man can of himself be the sufficient cause of
another's spiritual death, because no man dies spiritually except by
sinning of his own will.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a sin is aggravated by reason of the condition of the person
against whom it is committed?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that sin is not aggravated by reason of the
condition of the person against whom it is committed. For if this were
the case a sin would be aggravated chiefly by being committed against a
just and holy man. But this does not aggravate a sin: because a virtuous
man who bears a wrong with equanimity is less harmed by the wrong done
him, than others, who, through being scandalized, are also hurt inwardly.
Therefore the condition of the person against whom a sin is committed
does not aggravate the sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, if the condition of the person aggravated the sin, this
would be still more the case if the person be near of kin, because, as
Cicero says (Paradox. iii): "The man who kills his slave sins once: he
that takes his father's life sins many times." But the kinship of a
person sinned against does not apparently aggravate a sin, because every
man is most akin to himself; and yet it is less grievous to harm oneself
than another, e.g. to kill one's own, than another's horse, as the
Philosopher declares (Ethic. v, 11). Therefore kinship of the person
sinned against does not aggravate the sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the condition of the person who sins aggravates a sin
chiefly on account of his position or knowledge, according to Wis. 6:7:
"The mighty shall be mightily tormented," and Lk. 12:47: "The servant who
knew the will of his lord . . . and did it not . . . shall be beaten with
many stripes." Therefore, in like manner, on the part of the person
sinned against, the sin is made more grievous by reason of his position
and knowledge. But, apparently, it is not a more grievous sin to inflict
an injury on a rich and powerful person than on a poor man, since "there
is no respect of persons with God" (Col. 3:25), according to Whose
judgment the gravity of a sin is measured. Therefore the condition of the
person sinned against does not aggravate the sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Holy Writ censures especially those sins that are
committed against the servants of God. Thus it is written (3 Kgs. 19:14):
"They have destroyed Thy altars, they have slain Thy prophets with the
sword." Moreover much blame is attached to the sin committed by a man
against those who are akin to him, according to Micah 7:6: "the son
dishonoreth the father, and the daughter riseth up against her mother."
Furthermore sins committed against persons of rank are expressly
condemned: thus it is written (Job 34:18): "Who saith to the king: 'Thou
art an apostate'; who calleth rulers ungodly." Therefore the condition of
the person sinned against aggravates the sin.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The person sinned against is, in a manner, the object of
the sin. Now it has been stated above (A[3]) that the primary gravity of
a sin is derived from its object; so that a sin is deemed to be so much
the more grave, as its object is a more principal end. But the principal
ends of human acts are God, man himself, and his neighbor: for whatever
we do, it is on account of one of these that we do it; although one of
them is subordinate to the other. Therefore the greater or lesser gravity
of a sin, in respect of the person sinned against, may be considered on
the part of these three.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] Body Para. 2/2

First, on the part of God, to Whom man is the more closely united, as he
is more virtuous or more sacred to God: so that an injury inflicted on
such a person redounds on to God according to Zach. 2:8: "He that
toucheth you, toucheth the apple of My eye." Wherefore a sin is the more
grievous, according as it is committed against a person more closely
united to God by reason of personal sanctity, or official station. On the
part of man himself, it is evident that he sins all the more grievously,
according as the person against whom he sins, is more united to him,
either through natural affinity or kindness received or any other bond;
because he seems to sin against himself rather than the other, and, for
this very reason, sins all the more grievously, according to Ecclus.
14:5: "He that is evil to himself, to whom will he be good?" On the part
of his neighbor, a man sins the more grievously, according as his sin
affects more persons: so that a sin committed against a public personage,
e.g. a sovereign prince who stands in the place of the whole people, is
more grievous than a sin committed against a private person; hence it is
expressly prohibited (Ex. 22:28): "The prince of thy people thou shalt
not curse." In like manner it would seem that an injury done to a person
of prominence, is all the more grave, on account of the scandal and the
disturbance it would cause among many people.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: He who inflicts an injury on a virtuous person, so far as
he is concerned, disturbs him internally and externally; but that the
latter is not disturbed internally is due to his goodness, which does not extenuate the sin of the injurer.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The injury which a man inflicts on himself in those things
which are subject to the dominion of his will, for instance his
possessions, is less sinful than if it were inflicted on another, because
he does it of his own will; but in those things that are not subject to
the dominion of his will, such as natural and spiritual goods, it is a
graver sin to inflict an injury on oneself: for it is more grievous for a
man to kill himself than another. Since, however, things belonging to our
neighbor are not subject to the dominion of our will, the argument fails
to prove, in respect of injuries done to such like things, that it is
less grievous to sin in their regard, unless indeed our neighbor be
willing, or give his approval.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[9] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: There is no respect for persons if God punishes more
severely those who sin against a person of higher rank; for this is done
because such an injury redounds to the harm of many.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the excellence of the person sinning aggravates the sin?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the excellence of the person sinning does not
aggravate the sin. For man becomes great chiefly by cleaving to God,
according to Ecclus. 25:13: "How great is he that findeth wisdom and
knowledge! but there is none above him that feareth the Lord." Now the
more a man cleaves to God, the less is a sin imputed to him: for it is
written (2 Paral. 30: 18,19): "The Lord Who is good will show mercy to
all them, who with their whole heart seek the Lord the God of their
fathers; and will not impute it to them that they are not sanctified."
Therefore a sin is not aggravated by the excellence of the person sinning.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "there is no respect of persons with God" (Rm. 2:11).
Therefore He does not punish one man more than another, for one and the
same sin. Therefore a sin is not aggravated by the excellence of the
person sinning.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, no one should reap disadvantage from good. But he would,
if his action were the more blameworthy on account of his goodness.
Therefore a sin is not aggravated by reason of the excellence of the
person sinning.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 18): "A sin is deemed
so much the more grievous as the sinner is held to be a more excellent
person."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Sin is twofold. There is a sin which takes us unawares on
account of the weakness of human nature: and such like sins are less
imputable to one who is more virtuous, because he is less negligent in
checking those sins, which nevertheless human weakness does not allow us
to escape altogether. But there are other sins which proceed from
deliberation: and these sins are all the more imputed to man according as
he is more excellent. Four reasons may be assigned for this. First,
because a more excellent person, e.g. one who excels in knowledge and
virtue, can more easily resist sin; hence Our Lord said (Lk. 12:47) that
the "servant who knew the will of his lord . . . and did it not . . .
shall be beaten with many stripes." Secondly, on account of ingratitude,
because every good in which a man excels, is a gift of God, to Whom man
is ungrateful when he sins: and in this respect any excellence, even in
temporal goods, aggravates a sin, according to Wis. 6:7: "The mighty
shall be mightily tormented." Thirdly, on account of the sinful act being
specially inconsistent with the excellence of the person sinning: for
instance, if a prince were to violate justice, whereas he is set up as
the guardian of justice, or if a priest were to be a fornicator, whereas
he has taken the vow of chastity. Fourthly, on account of the example or
scandal; because, as Gregory says (Pastor. i, 2): "Sin becomes much more
scandalous, when the sinner is honored for his position": and the sins of
the great are much more notorious and men are wont to bear them with more
indignation.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The passage quoted alludes to those things which are done
negligently when we are taken unawares through human weakness.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: God does not respect persons in punishing the great more
severely, because their excellence conduces to the gravity of their sin,
as stated.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[73] A[10] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The man who excels in anything reaps disadvantage, not from
the good which he has, but from his abuse thereof.





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